University of Louisville to evaluate Schnatter naming deals, president says
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi said she is “evaluating” the status of university naming-rights agreements tied to John Schnatter, including that of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
The review comes a day after Schnatter quit his position on the university’s governing board and gave up the chairmanship of the company he founded after confirming a report that he had used the N-word during a business conference call in May.
Two U of L football players suggested on Twitter on Thursday that they would like the stadium to be renamed.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Bendapudi said she needed more time “to think this through” and consult with other officials at the university.
“We haven’t had a chance to discuss it formally but yes, certainly we are aware that there is a lot of interest in this and we are hoping to come together to discuss it,” she said.
A Papa John's spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bendapudi said she was personally “disappointed” to learn of Schnatter’s remarks but that she had not talked to him about it, and there have been no immediate discussions between Schnatter and the university regarding naming deals.
Built in the late 1990s, Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium was financed with $20 million in donations from Schnatter – $14 million in personal gifts and $6 million from Papa John’s International, according to a pair of naming rights agreements and extensions obtained by WDRB.
The deals last through 2040.
Schnatter also pledged more than $4 million in 2015 to establish the Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise within the U of L College of Business.
Schnatter established a similar center in his name at the University of Kentucky.
“Without question, the language reported in the conference call is unacceptable and has no place in our community,” UK spokesman Jay Blanton said in an email. “We look forward to Mr. Schnatter further addressing this issue in response to the heavy criticism he is rightly receiving.”